July 8, 2002
I usually don´t respond to media criticism, but the drumbeat over the coyote issue probably justifies one. More.
The Senate bill creating the Unit 69 mule deer study mandates that the Fish and Game Commission organize, plan and oversee the study. It was in accomplishing this directive that John Graham was invited to Idaho by me and Regional Supervisor Bob Saban to help us evaluate the feasibility of accomplishing adequate predator control and to demonstrate his technical and personal skills with the view that he, or someone with similar skills, might be a likely candidate for the job. He was requested to bring all of his equipment, including truck with fire siren, calls, gun, traps and snares. Bob Saban understood and consented to this. This was the permission I believed Graham needed. Where he would shoot coyotes was not discussed.
If regional supervisors and game wardens can´t give permission for these kind of events, then to be consistent, the same people demanding my head should demand the heads of most of the department employees. Permission (as opposed to permits) is given all the time and has been for decades. A strict interpretation of the statutes only allows the director this prerogative. If the director tended to all extraordinary permits he would have no time to direct.
Employees give permission for activities such as to rehabilitate and possess a wounded or orphaned animal, dispatch an injured animal, or fish in closed waters for film footage. The examples are myriad - but you get the point - and often the documentation goes to a file late, if at all.
Last fall I was with a conservation officer when he received a call that 40 elk had gone through the ice at Henry´s Lake. I accompanied the officers and others to the site. The elk that were still alive were all killed, dragged from the lake, field dressed and given away to hunters who agreed to punch their tags and utilize the meat. A narrow interpretation of the statute probably doesn´t allow the officers to do this.
This isn´t about a coyote - it´s about politics. And it´s being pushed by the very people who were promoting the initiative to "take politics out of wildlife management." They are using every tool at their disposal to accomplish their politics. They don´t like mine.
These are the people who want the dams breached regardless of the impact on people and without waiting to see if other less drastic methods will work. These are the people who would eliminate public land grazing for the slightest benefit to sage grouse but constantly stonewall and obstruct a study to see if limited predator control will recover the birds and leave ranchers on the land.
These are the people who told us wolves wouldn´t diminish our game herds or eat cows.
These are the people who advocate the flush of Idaho´s water and love the concept of federally reserved water rights.
They are just a little left of Ralph Nader. They opposed my confirmation and have demanded my resignation ever since. The coyote is their Trojan horse for a more obvious agenda.